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Interesting Facts Oil

May 18, 2015



  • 1. Oil Facts
    • In the time it takes most people to read this sentence, the world will have used up (forever) about 8,000 barrels of oil (336,000 gallons); at 1000 barrels per second
  • It's going fast.

2. Petroleum = Rock Oil

  • The word petroleum comes from the Greek word "petros" and the Latin word "oleum" meaning "rock" and "oil". Before "petroleum" was coined by German mineralogist Georg Bauer in 1556, people simply called it "rock oil."
  • Indeed, the Chinese, who had drilled the world's first oil well in 347 AD (a 800 feet or 240 m deep pit using bits attached to bamboo poles), called it - and still calls it -shi you , which literally means rock oil.

3. "Fossil Fuel" Came From Dinosaurs, Right?

  • It's common knowledge that oil came from decomposing dead dinosaurs and plant matters (after all, itiscalled "fossil fuel," right?) - but that's actually wrong. Though most scientists believed that oil has a biological origin, they don't believe that oil came from dinosaurs. They thought that oil was derived from single-celled planktons that flourished, died and then decomposed hundreds of millions of years ago.
  • Some scientists (mostly Russian and Ukrainian geologists) believe that oil wasn't produced from any living thing at all. Thisabiogenic petroleum originhypothesis claims that oil was formed from deep carbon deposits dating from as early as the formation of Earth. If that sounds kooky to you, just know this: one of the proponents of this theory was Dmitri Mendeleev (yes, the guy who invented the periodic table of elements).

4. Love the Whales? Thank Petroleum!

  • In the 19th century, high demand for whale oil for industrial uses fueled the whaling industry. Indeed, whale oil was widely used for lamp illuminants (whale oil burned slowly without any odor), candle wax, and clock lubricants.
  • Whale oil was used as a glaze for early photographs, and it was an essential ingredient for pharmaceuticals, soap, varnish and cosmetics (whale oil imparts a "rich glossy sheen").
  • Thanks to petroleum distillation, however, the demand for whale oil dropped significantly until there's no longer any economic reason to go whaling. Indeed, commercial whaling was completely banned in 1986.
  • One final note: there is one thing that we still use whale oil for and that's space exploration. NASA found out that sperm whale oil does not freeze even in very cold temperatures (like in outer space), thus making it an ideal lubricant for space probes.

5. When Gasoline was so Cheap it was Worthless

  • During the early days of Standard Oil (this was before cars became popular), kerosene was the name of the game. Gasoline, a by-product of petroleum distillation to produce kerosene, didn't have much demand. It was a cheap product used to treat lice and a solvent to remove grease stains from clothing ... In fact, gas was so cheap that oil companies used to dump it in rivers!

Standard Oil refinery in 1910 6. The Reason the Saudis are so Rich

  • More thanforty percent of the worlds oil reservesare spaced unevenly among the nations of the Middle East and North Africa. In 1960, many of the oil producing nations agreed to form acartelto regulate prices and production. This cartel, formed is called OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries)
  • Aramcois easily the most profitable company on the planet. While results are closely held, Aramco stands to net, after amortization of capital costs, roughly $200 billion a year on revenue in excess of $350 billion. Last year oil minister Ali Al-Naimi told reporters that the average barrel of Saudi oil costs just $2 to produce.

7. Rising Oil Price Ultimately Leads to Rising Goods Price

  • So what if oil price skyrockets if you can just walk or bicycle to work? Well, it turns out that out of 20 million barrels of oil United States imports every day, only 45% is used for gasoline fuel.
  • Though the large majority of the rest are used as fuel of some sort (like heating fuel), a portion of the petroleum is used for raw materials found in practically all consumer products sold today


  • One 42-gallon barrel of oil creates 19.4 gallons of gasoline. The rest (over half) is used to make things like:

SolventsDieselMotor OilBearing GreaseInkFloor WaxBallpoint PensFootball CleatsUpholsterySweatersBoatsInsecticidesBicycle TiresSports Car BodiesNail PolishFishing luresDressesTiresGolf BagsPerfumesCassettesDishwasherTool BoxesShoe PolishMotorcycle HelmetCaulkingPetroleum JellyTransparent TapeCD PlayerFaucet WashersAntisepticsClotheslineCurtainsFood PreservativesBasketballsSoapVitamin CapsulesAntihistaminesPursesShoes 9.